The socio-political concept of extremism has many layers and characteristics, although there is not any uniform concept that makes extremism tangible as a scientific category. Typical synonyms include radicalism, unconstitutionalism, political criminality, terrorism, fundamentalism, and populism. Demands for democracy, freedom and equality rights are today an immanent part of the democratic constitutional state but were perceived as a fundamental change in the time of their spread in Europe. In the differentiation of liberal-conservative and socialist movements in the 19th century, radicalism was mainly seen as a political concept used to counter revolutionary demands. In the 20th century, a distinction between Marxist left-wing radicalism and national right-wing radicalism emerged.
Within this use case, and in contrast to religious and ethnic extremism, FERMI intends to examine, besides rightwing, left-wing extremism as well, in particular from an economic perspective. FERMI's approach primarily addresses political confrontation. When considering the costs of extremism, a differentiation of the economic costs is necessary. On the one hand, welfare losses arise from the loss of life as well as the physical destruction of or damage to (intellectual) property, assets or other means of production. These losses are borne by society. Furthermore, there are opportunity costs, i.e., costs of alternatives that do not materialise, e.g., that are spent on police work as a result of extremism, and thus other domains, such as investments in infrastructure or education, which might have been of more benefit to society, receive correspondingly less. Finally, externalities (external costs) also arise from extremism, e.g., in terms of other crimes such as theft, as police forces for example, are increasingly withdrawn in greater numbers to escort demonstrations with the unintended consequence of an increased incidence of theft in areas where police presence is thinned out. These types of economic costs are borne by direct or indirect victims of extremism, can affect investment and real estate – as they can deter investors, have a direct impact on policy decisions and institutional spending, and even affect trade, mobility and tourism. This can result in the loss of jobs – through relocation or expansion to other locations – and lead consequently to a loss of productivity and welfare in a region.
For the use case of left-wing extremism, the revolutionary May Day demonstrations in Berlin, which have become increasingly radicalised since the mid-1980s, are certainly among the most defining case studies. The "Revolutionary May Day Rally" is associated with riots, looting and violence against citizens and damage to properties, nowadays not only in Berlin. Large parts of these demonstrations are ideological, anti-capitalist and anarchist in orientation, which points to left-wing political extremism that is reflected in the riots. In view of this, both the city of Berlin and the private sector have significantly increased security measures in recent years, which is associated with rising costs.
These include costs for additional police deployment, private protection costs, costs associated with property damage, and costs associated with impacts on traffic. All these costs associated with left-wing violent excesses on 1 May are increasingly organised via social media. Partly in public forums, but also behind not immediately obvious digital backrooms. Nevertheless, the digital mobilisation effect is many times higher compared to the analogue one. The experience of the police from the analogue world, paired with the digital FERMI solutions and an economic observation and analysis layer (economic factors), follow a holistic approach that creates added value from law enforcement to prevention. The findings will be consolidated and applied in training measures.